Economy to reap rewards fromdirect flights
Direct flights between Guangzhou, Mainland China, and Christchurch could bring more than $100m in visitor spend to the country’s economy.
This is the view of Christchurch Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns who says the service offers more than 70,000 seats into the South Island.
The Christchurch to Guangzhou flight operates three times aweek – on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday – departing at 10.30pm and arriving in Guangzhou at 5.30am. Return flights depart from Guangzhou just after midnight, arriving in Christchurch at 5.10pm.
The introduction of the service is good news not only for the tourism industry but also for southern air freight needs, which add up to significant economic development opportunities for every region of the South Island, Johns says.
‘‘We know from official government statistics that when the entry point is Christchurch, every South Island region benefits because visitors on average leave around 85 per cent of their spending in the South Island. This drops to less than 35 per cent when the entry point is not Christchurch.
‘‘As an airport, we were competing for this aircraft against cities including Rome, Istanbul, Cairo and Chicago.
‘‘When it comes to footing it on the world stage, against this type of competition, we needed the South Island to stand up and make an impact, which it did on both counts.
‘‘The South Island was strongly supported by both central and local government as it built its relationship with China Southern Airlines and many key travel trade partners in China over the past 18 months,’’ he says.
‘‘The strong support from both central and local government was critical in this process.
‘‘The Tourism Growth Partnership has been very supportive, as has Tourism New Zealand, and the New Zealand Consulate in Guangzhou was brilliant in every way we could have asked for.’’
The airport has led a series of engagements in China over recent years to lift the profile of the South Island in China, strongly supported by major South Island tourism operators and by many regions.
The president and CEO of China Southern Airlines Company Limited, Tan Wan Geng, says the airline is proud to offer another first for New Zealand. ‘‘We are the first Chinese carrier to fly to New Zealand and now carry on that tradition by being the first to fly to the South Island,’’ he says.
‘‘Increasing numbers of Chinese arrivals into Christchurch Airport show the demand for the South Island, especially from the growing number of independent travellers who want to see and experience it.’’
Christchurch Airport continues to be the fastest growing point of entry for Chinese visitors. While national figures grew 39 per cent over the past summer, Christchurch Airport’s numbers grew 69 per cent. Overall, the airport showed a 59 per cent increase in arrivals of Chinese nationals in the months of December, January and February.